Roasted chickpeas were a favorite snack of my Italian grandmother who first introduced me to the savory protein-rich treat many years ago. To make Italian-style roasted chickpeas, simply toss cooked chickpeas with a little olive oil and roast them on a baking pan in a single layer for about 30 minutes, then season lightly with salt. These days you can find numerous spin-offs of classic roasted chickpeas that cloak the chickpeas with various spice blends and sauces from curry to tamari. I especially love these Smoky Chickpeas, a recipe I developed by tossing the chickpeas in a seasoning mixture that I generally use to make vegan bacon. Once roasted, the chickpeas take on a lovely mahogany color and a deep smoky flavor that, like their more scantily-clad Italian counterpart, make a terrific snack on their own. They can also be used to add interest to soups or cooked grains or other recipes where a smoky flavor is welcome. My favorite way to serve them is in this Smoky Chickpea and Watercress Salad with Mango and Avocado.
Smoky Chickpea and Watercress Salad [Vegan]
For the Dressing:
- 1/2 cup chopped ripe mango
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard or 1/2 teaspoon sriracha
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- Water, as needed
- Salt and pepper
For the Salad:
- 2 bunches watercress, well washed and spun dry, tough stems removed
- 1 ripe mango
- 1 ripe Hass avocado
For the Smoky Chickpeas:
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups cooked or one 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
To Make the Dressing:
- Combine the chopped mango, lime juice, agave, mustard (or sriracha), and liquid smoke in a blender or food processor.
- Blend until smooth, adding 1 to 3 tablespoons of water as needed to achieve desired consistency.
- Season lightly with salt and pepper and blend again, then taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Set aside.
To Make the Salad:
- Place the watercress in a large salad bowl or mound onto individual plates.
- Top with the chickpeas.
- Peel, pit, and dice the mango and avocado, or use a small melon baller to scoop them into balls, then add them to the watercress and chickpeas.
- Drizzle the dressing onto the salad or serve the dressing on the side.
To Make the Smoky Chickpeas:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Line a shallow baking dish with parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine and coat the chickpeas.
- Transfer the chickpeas to the prepared baking dish and spread them in a single layer.
- Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once about halfway through.